My happy moments from 2014, New Year’s resolutions and snow

The Snow Queen Milla.

The Snow Queen Milla.

It’s snowing from yesterday. Italy, the land of the sun around here looks pretty much like Winterfell, but I’m not Arya Stark even though I got her short hair and her surly attitude.

town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy

Town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy.

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Quite a lot of snow I would say.

Milla, my 9 year old cocker spaniel is snoring at my feet enjoying her cozy blanket. I guess in a perfect wintery scenario the only things that are missing in the picture are the sound of crackling fire and a hot chocolate with marshmallow. Too bad I don’t have either of them, but I can fake it with the virtual fireplace sound on a 5 hour long youtube video and a Nutella jar.

Usually the end of December leads to make new resolutions for the next year, but they almost never work, at least for me, like the classic losing weight, or spending less money on unnecessary stuff. Because let’s face it, these two are the hardest promises to keep for a woman, am I right?

The last couple of months have been really tough on both G and I, so there’s not as much enthusiasm to start a new year as the previous New Year’s Eves. However, I feel it’s necessary not to give up to negativity, so the one and only resolution I am making for 2015 and my future as well, is to work really hard on myself in order to start finding happiness in every little thing.

2015 will be a year of change and I know it for sure. It’s not just the holidays’ atmosphere to do the talking, but the recent circumstances that are pushing me to do something, more like a make it or break it kind of situation.

I like to keep this blog as a drama free place, so I want to start my important resolution from here.

As you might have previously read on The Weird Frittata, every month I like to write a chart/bucket list of products/places I loved and recommend. This time it’s different, because I’m going to write what made me happy during 2014 even what it looks like to be negative, because I want to believe there is a bright side in everything.

So, here it is:

  • The early months of 2014 spent at home in Italy with my family. Even the unemployment has its own bright side, because I could treasure every moment with my parents and relatives (you know, Italian families are quite big). I had the wonderful experience of reconnecting with my family and enjoy my Nonna’s cooking, which I tried to recreate and practice as much as I could. Needless to say that her special recipes will always be in my heart for ever.
  • Moving back to the UK. This time I discovered London from a new perspective experimenting with ethnic restaurants, discovering new recipes and hipster places, just what I needed after a long Italian winter. This rediscovery made me realise how much I love food and the industry that gravitates around it, to the point that I would like to blend in and be part of it. Even though I’m thankful to London for each life experience I had, my love-hate relationship with this city keeps going on, and I’m afraid it’s not going to last that long. It’s like when you get back with your ex and you know that after the initial happiness the old problems will rise again. In fact, here I am again in a “It’s not you, it’s me”, kind of phase and I am grateful for that, because I know that I need to look for something else in my life. Rather than something, it’s somewhere.
  • House sharing again, Thank you London rental prices! Seriously how could this be positive? You might ask, but I’m now more convinced than before of what I want for 2015. Respect is the first answer and I could go on, but anyone who has shared a property knows, for example, how hard it is to keep it clean without ending up in an argument with the other flatmates.
  • All the job interviews gone wrong. You can learn from your mistakes, they say and I’m sure to have learned something about myself and how to deal with these kind of situations. Luckily, it’s not all about me. There are lot of jerks who think they are entitled to treat applicants like trash, because they are in a position of power. I am thankful I don’t have to deal with them on daily basis.
  • Now something not about me. G. finally entered the career field he chased for a long time and I’m happy for him to have found his own path. It’s just the beginning and will be difficult but seeing the person I love being happy makes me want to work hard as well and pay him back with the same positivity he gives me every day.

I saw on Pinterest something called resolution jar and I believe it’s a nice idea to keep the positive mood throughout the year. What you have to do is just fill an empty jar with notes about all the good moments you have during the year and then, around the end of December, you can empty the jar and go through all of your notes to remember those positive moments that we tend to forget in favour of the negative ones.

Now for all of you lazy people out there (including me), this is a lovely idea but also a commitment as well, so find whatever works best for you: a notebook, a board, a calendar or just an app on your smartphone, but never stop staying positive!

I’ll try my best, you should too.


Happy New Year, guys!

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A day in Naples and the best pizza in the world. Gino Sorbillo’s review.

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Vesuvius volcano.

Naples is like a lioness, beautiful, haughty and arduous to tame. The collective consciousness about the third city of Italy is made up of diehard preconceptions: a poor, anarchic and at times dirty urban centre on the slopes of a volcano. I’m not here to say this is just not true, because each and every stereotype always has a pinch of accuracy. Also, if the essence of a community remains strong throughout centuries, not necessarily the said people won’t open to change for the needs that modern times demand. What I would like to point out here is that although I come from a region that borders with Campania (the region where Naples is the main centre) and my dialect is strictly similar to the Neapolitan one, due to centuries of Neapolitan domination in the fragmented South, I also had preconceptions. I had them because the last time I visited the city I was about ten, and well, almost 20 years ago the situation was a bit different than it is now. The neglected architecture of the buildings always stays the same, just as some grotesque “personalities” you can find in the narrow alleys that form the map of the city centre. However, this time Naples felt cleaner and safer. It’s true that Christmas is a busy period for the city, because tourists from every part of Italy and the world hit the San Gregorio Armeno alley, to visit the artisan workshops specialised in the creations of nativity scenes. For this reason it would be only logical to consider the hard work of the municipality as something special for the holiday season, but apparently the city is dealing with an actual desire to change, in order to make the ancient capital of southern Italy a modern European city. Some results are already showing, just like the project Stations of Art which is aimed at changing the perspective of the city’s perception by allowing contemporary artist to take over the design and architecture of some underground stations. In fact in 2012 Toledo station was chosen as the most beautiful underground station in Europe

The wonderful mosaic of Toledo underground station in Naples. Project by the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. Credits: The New York Times

Where does food place itself in this context of traditions looking at the future? Exactly in harmony with everything else. Street food is a market that lures young entrepreneurs, because they have the chance to offer the classics of Neapolitan gastronomy in a new light by enhancing the traditional preparation methods, using quality Italian products and social networks to promote their business in the quickest way to the public. This is just what happened with the famous Gino Sorbillo’s pizza that I finally had the chance to try. Gino Sorbillo for whom pizza making runs in the family, is a young talented chef. His passion for the traditional Neapolitan pizza motivated him to improve it by researching and experimenting with mother dough, different organic flour blends and ingredients in order to find an excellent and easy to digest recipe. Gino Sorbillo’s research never stops, in fact it seems that he is trying to create a dough specifically for coeliac disease affected people with the same texture, taste and digestibility of the regular one used in his 3 pizzerias. The ingredients used as toppings are all the best Italian products the country can offer, with their origin and traceability stated on the menu. In other words, Quality. Yes, with capital Q.

Now let’s talk about the experience: image10 The location. You’ll recognise it from afar even though you’ve never been there before, because there’s always a queue that looks endless. You have to be patient, because sometimes it’s necessary to wait hours to get a taste of the best pizza in Italy (and the world in my opinion). My advice is to go either at the opening around 12 or after lunch time at 3. This doesn’t mean you will not queue at all, because as I said the place is always packed with people, but the wait is more “human”. image3 The pizzeria is an ancient two storey house, property of Esterina, Gino’s beloved aunt who passed the passion for pizza on to him. The decor is minimal because all the attention is concentrated on the product. Anyway, in my opinion it wouldn’t harm to modernise the retro style of the place, but retro is not to be intended as the vintage design that is so trendy right now. I am talking about 90’s Italian, so last century!

The service is very fast even though the waitresses aren’t smiley or chatty. I would have certainly appreciated some more courtesy, but I understand that heavy shifts and dealing with every kind of people at a fast pace can get easily on everyone’s nerves. For this reason, there’s no tablecloth on the table and glasses are disposable, just like their napkins. When customers are ready to leave, a waitress comes and cleans the table in a few seconds, so it’s ready for the next group of people.

The pizza. The base is light and soft but doesn’t tear up. This is the result of working the dough and stretching it by hand only, because Sorbillo refuses to use industrial machineries. To those who are not familiar with Neapolitan pizza the dough will taste as still raw, but believe me, it’s not. You will realise it immediately, because after eating you pizza you will not feel full and bloated. As I mentioned before, high-digestibility.

My Osvaldo pizza.

My Osvaldo pizza.

I got an Osvaldo pizza which is made with cherry tomatoes, smoked mixed buffalo&cow’s milk provola cheese, mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella, extravirgin olive oil and fresh basil. Only 5€.

Vittorio pizza.

Vittorio pizza.

G got Vittorio, an amazing mix of Apulian tuna, Taggiasca olives, Mount Saro’s wild oregano, Italian organic passata and mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella. Price was 7.50€.

My vote is 9. Sorbillo’s pizza is extraordinary, the best I’ve ever had, because it is a combination of harmonic quality ingredients with a digestible dough, basically the dream. I can’t give more than 9, because some aspects of the overall experience can definitely be improved, but of course I recommend you to try Sorbillo’s amazing pizza because, I can assure you, nothing will ever be the same after that.

Gino Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Naples.

Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food, why I did not like it.

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The exhibition Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food was hosted at Somerset House from 5 July to 29 September 2013, and if I am writing about it now, it is just because it took time to “digest” it and think about it.

I have never had the pleasure to dine at elBulli – Ferran Adrià’s famous restaurant- and I was curious about this exhibition, so, since I was in London, I felt it was necessary to give a look. While I was in the tube heading to Somerset House, I kept wondering how an exhibition could communicate the essence of the former best restaurant in the world, keeping in mind that it is not an easy task. I admit I was a bit biased, but I was just waiting to be surprised. And I was.

The entrance of the building was covered with banners and magazine covers that featured Adrià, so from the beginning visitors could already imagine the mediatic power of this chef, and to be honest, I felt quite intimidated but obviously I kept going .

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The exhibition’s entrance was focused on a big sculpture a of a French Bulldog, which is the symbol of the restaurant, and some boards that displayed the staff list, for every year.

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It is impossible not to notice Rene Redzepi, the famous chef from Noma restaurant, among the interns in 1999.

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Look who’s there.

The actual exhibition was divided in three main areas: the Historical, the Artistic and the Graphic-Conceptual one.

The first room displayed elBulli’s history through a precise timeline, short videos, pictures and documents. ElBulli was founded by Hans and Marketta Shilling, a German-Czech couple in love with the beautiful location of Cala Montjoi in Costa Brava. Marketta loved their French Bulldogs, commonly called bulli, who became the symbol of the restaurant.

Bullis

1956

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During the 1960s the traditional cuisine that was precisely codified by Auguste Escoffier, started to be challenged by the pioneers of the nouvelle cuisine: Michel Guérard, Jean and Pierre Troisgros, Alain Chapel and Paul Bocuse. Of course, this revolution was contagious also for elBulli which included more and more French dishes under the guidance of Jean-Louis Neichel first, and Juli Soler after. In 1984 Ferran Adrià started working as Head Chef, bringing Catalonian culinary traditions and modernising them, changing elBulli’s history forever.

Adrià 1984

Why I did not like this part: In my opinion, the lack of a precise path to follow generates confusion, because there is a timeline along the left side wall, but there are other objects (eg. old documents, menus, sketches etc.) that divert attention from the main focus. Then, at the center of the room there is a wall full of other details to look at, and people have to go back in order not to miss a single thing. Or they could start at the beginning of the time line looking both walls, but this could be too much at the same time.

Up to the second floor there is the space dedicated to Adrià’s innovations with dozens of little screens, each one showing the preparation of a famous recipe, and Adrià’s personal notes regarding methods and arrangement of the various components in their plate.

2nd floor

Notes

Nothing is casual, nothing is left to contingency, in fact, Adrià developed clay models of his food component in order to study their arrangement in the plate and a special tableware.

clay model

I am sorry to admit that this room was not convincing either, first of all because it was a corridor, and again it was difficult to follow because of too many things to look at. I would have rather chosen maybe five screens showing those famous recipes in Adrià’s notes, because it would have been easier to follow for people who have no technical knowledge about Adria’s innovations.

The third room was more focused on elBulli virus*, the desire to communicate with different creative areas such as graphic design, industrial design, architecture and science. So here it is possible to go beyond the mere concept of a restaurant that serves food as unique aim and concentrate on the creation of innovative cutlery, tableware and Bullipedia, a new interactive database aimed at the codification of gastronomy. Lastly, the project of eElBulli foundation that will involve all these creative aspects and will be open in 2014.

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This final part is easier to understand and I have absolutely nothing to complain about it. Thank God, right?

My thoughts:

Personally, I was not really amazed by the entire exhibition, because the atmosphere seemed distant, that’s why I felt no involvement. I think there was too much to look at, without the possibility to assimilate everything. Plus, the arrangement structure, without a precise path to follow created chaos both for the historical part, and for the one focused on recipes. In fact, I believe that here, the confusion comes from the fact that those notes and sketches, researches, experiments and techniques that led to famous courses, needed to be shown first, otherwise visitors would cannot really understand that final result shown in those screens. Now, I am not an expert exhibition curator or an architect, I am just a visitor who thinks that this exhibition has some issues in communicating with their audience, but hey, there is always room for improvements right? Maybe next time.

*elBulli virus name was created by the SCPF advertising agency.

Disclaimer: all pictures were taken with permission, but I would not hesitate to delete them if requested by Somerset House.

And now in Italian.

La mostra Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food si è tenuta alla Somerset House dal 5 Luglio al 29 Settembre 2013, e se ne parlo solo adesso, è perché ci è voluto del tempo per assimilarla e ragiornarci su.

Non ho mai avuto la fortuna di cenare a elBulli, il famoso ristorante di Ferran Adrià, e questa retrospettiva mi incuriosiva molto, quindi, poiché ero a Londra, ho pensato che fosse necessario andare a dare un’occhiata. Già in metro verso la Somerset House, mi domandavo come potesse una mostra comunicare l’essenza dell’ex miglior ristorante del mondo, pensando che non sia una cosa facile. Ammetto di aver avuto dei pregiudizi, ma volevo essere sorpresa. E lo sono stata.

L’entrata del palazzo era coperta con dei banner e delle copertine di giornali famosi dedicati ad Adrià, perciò, fin dall’inizio, si poteva già immaginare il potere mediatico di questo chef, e ad essere onesti, mi sentivo un po’ intimidita, ma ovviamente sono entrata.

 L’entrata dell’area dedicata alla mostra era concentrata su una gigantesca scultura di un Bulldog francese, il simbolo del ristorante, e da alcuni pannelli su cui erano scritti i nomi dei componenti dello staff per ogni anno. Impossibile non notare René Redzepi, il famoso chef del Noma, tra gli stagisti del 1999.

La mostra vera e propria era divisa in tre aree: la parte storica, quella artistica, e quella grafica-concettuale.

La prima stanza era concentrata sulla storia di elBulli, attraverso una precisa cronologia, video, foto e documenti.

ElBulli è stato fondato da Hans e Marketta Shilling, una coppia tedesco-ceca innamorata della bellissima location di Cala Montjoi in Costa Brava. Marketta amava i bulldog francesi, chiamati comunemente bulli in francese, che divennero il simbolo del ristorante.

Durante gli anni sessanta, quella cucina tradizionale che era stata precisamente codificata da Auguste Escoffier, cominciò ad essere messa alla prova dai pionieri della nouvelle cuisine: Michel Guérard, Jean and Pierre Troisgros, Alain Chapel e Paul Bocuse. Ovviamente, anche elBulli venne contagiato da questa rivoluzione, includendo nel proprio menu sempre più piatti francesi sotto la guida di Jean-Louis Neichel ed, in seguito, di Juli Soler. Nel 1984 Ferran Adrià cominciò a lavorare ad elBulli come capo chef, portando con sé la tradizione culinaria della Catalogna, che scelse di modernizzare, cambiando per sempre la storia di elBulli.

Perché questa sezione non mi è piaciuta: secondo me, l’assenza di un percorso preciso da seguire poteva creare confusione, perché c’era una cronologia lungo il muro di sinistra, ma c’erano anche molti altri oggetti (documenti, menu, bozze), che distoglievano l’attenzione. In più, al centro della sala c’era un muro pieno di ulteriori dettagli da considerare, perciò, per non perdere nulla, sarebbe stato opportuno tornare indietro. Oppure, percorrere la timeline guardando da entrambi i lati, ma questo avrebbe potuto generare troppa confusione.

Al piano di sopra c’era la seconda area tematica, quella dedicata all’arte del cibo, le innovazioni di Adrià, con dozzine di piccoli schermi, ognuno mostrava la preparazione di una famosa ricetta di elBulli. Sull’altro lato della stanza c’erano note personali di Adrià, bozze riguardanti tecniche e modi di impiattamento. Niente era lasciato al caso, infatti Adrià aveva dei modellini di creta dei componenti di ogni piatto, cosicché potesse studiare i vari impiattamenti con dei piatti disegnati specialmente per lui.

Mi dispiace ammettere che neanche questa sezione mi ha convinta. Prima di tutto perché la stanza era, in realtà, un corridoio, e ancora una volta era difficile da seguire per tutti i dettagli a cui fare attenzione. Io avrei scelto forse 5 schermi in cui mostrare le portate descritte nelle note di Adrià, perché tutto ciò sarebbe stato più facile da seguire per le persone che non hanno conoscenza tecnica delle innovazioni apportate dallo chef.

La terza sezione era dedicata ad elBulli virus*, un desiderio di comunicazione realizzato attraverso varie aree creative, come il graphic design, design industriale, architettura e scienza. Qui, è possibile andare al di là del concetto del ristorante che serve del cibo come unico scopo, e ci si può concentrare sulla creazione di piatti e posate dal design innovativo, e Bullipedia, un nuovo database interattivo mirato alla codificazione della gastronomia. In ultimo, la creazione della fondazione elBulli che coinvolgerà tutti questi aspetti creativi, e che aprirà nel 2014.

Quest’ultima parte era facile da comprendere, per cui non ho nulla da criticare. Grazie a Dio, vero?

Credo che questa mostra non sia stata molto sorprendente, perché c’era un’atmosfera distante, che non mi ha coinvolto. La ragione potrebbe essere il fatto di non poter assimilare tutto quello che era esposto, perché era un po’ troppo. In più, la struttura, senza un percorso preciso, ha creato confusione nelle due aree principali. Infatti, per quanto riguarda la seconda parte, penso che quelle bozze che mostravano le tecniche e le ricerche di Adrià avrebbero dovuto essere mostrate prima dell’area audiovisiva, poiché sarebbe stato più facile, per i visitatori, vedere il risultato finale.

Non sono curatrice di mostre o architetto, ma penso che questa mostra avesse problemi di comunicazione con il pubblico, però c’è sempre margine di miglioramento, giusto? Magari la prossima volta.

From chefs to opinion leaders, educating people through social media

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Let’s be honest, when it comes to cooking a good meal, do we still look at that old dusty recipe book that we all have in the kitchen? no, we go straight to our computer, on youtube. Likewise, before dining out, we check tripadvisor or yelp for reviews, then instagram to see how the food looks like and eventually twitter or facebook to check if there is any special of the day. Ok, maybe we do not really check all social media, but one or two for sure, would you deny it?

Have social media changed our dining habits? Definitely, this is believed by many, not only experts. In fact, even my mum realised this, asking me why some guys were spasmodically taking pictures rather than eating their food. I am not sure she understood the pairing hipster-instagram but restaurant industry professionals did, and they suddenly realised the social media entered the restaurant world. So the question was, how to face this “make or brake” opportunity, and the answer was: embraced it all with pros and cons. However, some chefs went even further, bringing social media into the kitchen. This allowed them to establish a close relationship with their customers and fans, becoming something more than people who cook, they became opinion leaders.

As a matter of facts, cooking shows like Masterchef contributed to boost chefs’ popularity and social media shaped a new concept of chef as someone who “comes out of the kitchen” sharing on social media (twitter in particular) their private life, their social initiatives, but most of all they promote themselves as a brand.

I remember when choosing the kind of high school that suited me the most,* students would rarely choose to enrol in culinary school. Now circumstances have radically changed, because those who seriously dedicate their life to cooking, do not just cook. They also acquire knowledge and expertise in additional sectors:

  • Chemistry: first of all, cooking requires research and experiments, so it is necessary to study the structure of raw materials, how they react and transform with heat and cold, what substances they release and how to combine them in order to transform the mere action of eating in a memorable experience. Moreover, researching and playing with raw materials and textures, led to famous masterpieces which consecrated chefs as Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura and René Redzepi in the international gastronomic panorama. Following these chefs on social media allow their fans to learn some techniques, in order to achieve the best flavours at home.
  • Design: it is important to highlight the artistic composition of each course on the menu, because we taste first with our eyes. For example, in order to try different visual solutions for the same dish,  Ferran Adrià had several clay models that he arranged in different ways. Furthermore, since chefs strive for perfection, the atmosphere surrounding their creations has to be impressive as their dishes, therefore some chefs like Davide Oldani design their own tableware and cutlery, while others just as Ferran Adrià entrust famous designers to do so. Chefs regularly post pictures on the internet of their artistic dishes or tableware to share them with their fans.
  • Social issues connected with eating habits: for example obesity is the main focus of Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution. Chefs are also very environmentally conscious, so, when it comes to issues like overfishing they are willing to do their part. As a matter of fact, when Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver had a shooting for the Daily Mail and they were asked to wear a fish in place of their necktie, they agreed as long as the fish was sustainable, because they felt responsible towards the public. In other words, they were behaving as opinion leaders.

All these aspects outline new characteristics of what being a chef has currently become, according to what it is filtered through social media. Chefs are now creative talents who achieve success and, frankly, this is not a surprise. First of all, being able to cook is sexy, and if there is more behind those skills, then appeal and kudos increase rapidly.

Consequently, cooking shows are experiencing an unbelievable success, more and more students enrol in culinary schools and food awareness seems to develop more than before.

Someone would argue that this is just a big fat lie, a huge marketing operation to bring money in chefs’ pockets, but I cannot really agree. What I see is, yes, a marketing operation but with an educational aim: spread food awareness and educate the palate. This does not mean truffles, caviar or some other luxury, especially during the current credit crunch, but more a re-discovery of traditional authentic flavours. Then, after people are aware, educated, and if they can afford it, they can experience and appreciate a dinner at these opinion-leader-chefs’ restaurants.

The fact that chefs have become opinion leaders thanks to social media is undoubtedly positive, because they gained credibility to guide the public towards food in all its aspects. Appeal and success make youths want to imitate their leaders and have a career in the restaurant industry. A fleeting trend? maybe, because only few have that willpower, abnegation and infinite passion that is takes to become the new Redzepi or Bottura. That’s the way it is.

I believe that chefs and social media is remarkable pairing, especially if, as opinion leaders, they can spread knowledge and awareness, because an educated customer can have better eating habits and broaden their curiosity towards new horizons.

*In Italy there are different paths to choose in high school (the scientific, the humanistic, linguistic, cooking one and few others )

And now in Italian.

Siamo onesti, quando si tratta di cucinare guardiamo ancora quel libro polveroso che tutti abbiamo in cucina? no, andiamo direttamente al computer, su youtube. Allo stesso modo, prima di andare a cena fuori controlliamo le recensioni di tripadvisor, poi instagram per vedere le foto dei piatti, e alla fine twitter o facebook per controllare se ci sia qualche piatto del giorno. Ok, magari non diamo un’occhiata a tutti i social media, ma uno o due di sicuro, lo potete negare?

I social media hanno cambiato le nostre abitudini in fatto di mangiare fuori? Senza dubbio, lo credono in molti, e non solo esperti del settore. Infatti, anche mia mamma ci ha fatto caso, quando mi ha chiesto perché alcuni ragazzi perdessero tempo a fotografare il loro cibo da ogni angolazione piuttosto che mangiarlo. Non credo che abbia capito il binomio hipster-instagram, ma i professionisti del settore della ristorazione sì, e hanno anche capito che i social media erano, di fatto, entrati nel loro mondo. Quindi la questione era come affrontare un’opportunità che si sarebbe potuta rivelare un successo o un fallimento, e la risposta è stata accettarla con tutti i pro e i contro. Alcuni chef si sono spinti anche oltre, facendo entrare i social media anche in cucina. Tutto ciò ha permesso loro di creare una relazione più stretta con i clienti e i fan, diventando qualcosa di più di semplici persone che cucinano: sono diventati degli opinion leader.

Programmi televisivi come Masterchef hanno contribuito ad aumentare la popolarità degli chef, e allo stesso tempo i social media hanno plasmato una nuova figura, quella del cuoco che esce dalla cucina e condivide sui social media (soprattutto twitter) la sua vita privata, le sue campagne sociali, ma soprattutto la promozione di sé stessi come brand.

Ricordo che al momento della scelta della scuola superiore, era raro che molti studenti scegliessero l’istituto alberghiero. Ora le circostanze stanno cambiando radicalmente, anche perché coloro che si dedicano seriamente alla cucina, non fanno solo quello, ma acquisiscono competenze anche in altri settori:

  • Chimica: prima di tutto, cucinare implica ricerca e sperimentazione, quindi è necessario studiare la struttura delle materie prime, come esse reagiscono al calore e al freddo, quali sostanze rilasciano e come conviene combinarle, per trasformare la semplice azione del mangiare in una esperienza memorabile. Ricercare e giocare con le materie prime e le consistenze è quello che ha portato alla creazione di capolavori che hanno consacrato chef come Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura e René Redzepi nel panorama gastronomico internazionale. Seguire questi chef sui social media, permette al loro pubblico di imparare delle tecniche da replicare a casa per ottenere degli ottimi piatti.
  • Design: è importante sottolineare la composizione artistica di ogni piatto, perché è vero che il primo assaggio viene fatto con gli occhi. Per esempio, Ferran Adrià ha dei modellini in creta che, disposti in maniera differente, permettono di creare diverse soluzioni visive per lo stesso piatto. In più, poiché gli chef tendono a cercare la perfezione, l’atmosfera che circonda le loro creazioni deve essere altrettanto perfetta, quindi, ci sono chef come Davide Oldani che disegnano i loro servizi di  posate e piatti, mentre altri come Adrià si affidano a famosi designer. Sia le creazioni culinarie, sia quelle di design vengono costantemente pubblicate sui social network.
  • Problematiche sociali connese alle abitudini alimentari: per esempio, l’obesità è il nodo centrale della Food Revolution di Jamie Oliver. Gli chef hanno anche una certa attenzione all’ambiente, ecco perché sono disposti a fare la loro parte riguardo problemi come la pesca eccessiva. Un chiaro esempio venne dato da Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal e Jamie Oliver, quando durante un servizio fotografico per il Daily Mail venne chiesto loro di indossare un pesce al posto della cravatta. Loro accettarono alla sola condizione che si trattasse si pesci appartenenti a specie non in pericolo, perché si sentivano responsabili delle loro scelte nei confronti del pubblico. In altre parole, stavano comportandosi come opinion leader.

Tutti questi aspetti delineano nuove caratteristiche di quello che essere chef è diventato, secondo quanto viene filtrato dai social media. Gli chef sono dei talenti creativi che hanno successo e, francamente, non è una sorpresa. Prima di tutto perché cucinare è sexy, e se c’è di più al di là di queste capacità, l’appeal aumenta. Di conseguenza, le trasmissioni televisive di cucina continuano ad avere successo, sempre più studenti si iscrivono alle scuole di cucina e si sta diffondendo rapidamente un certo livello di consapevolezza per quello che finisce nei nostri piatti. Qualcuno potrebbe obiettare che si tratti di un’abile operazione di marketing volta ad arricchire gli chef, ma non concordo in pieno. Quello che penso è che sì, è un’operazione di marketing, ma con un intento educativo: quello di educare il palato e la conoscenza dei cibi. Tutto ciò non significa mangiare tartufi, caviale o qualche altro genere di lusso (specialmente durante l’attuale crisi economica), ma piuttosto una riscoperta dei sapori autentici della tradizione. In seguito, una volta acquisita una certa consapevolezza e se è possibile permetterselo, si può provare l’esperienza di una cena nei ristoranti di questi chef/opinion leader.

Il fatto che gli chef siano diventati degli opinion leader grazie ai social media, è senza dubbio positivo, perché hanno acquisito la credibilità necessaria per guidare il pubblico verso il cibo in tutti i suoi aspetti. Il fascino e il successo degli chef spingono i giovani ad imitare i loro opinion leader per inseguire una carriera nell’ambito della ristorazione. Una moda passeggera? forse, perché solo in pochi hanno la volontà, lo spirito di sacrificio e la passione per diventare i nuovi Redzepi o Bottura.

Credo che chef e social media siano un binomio degno di nota, specialmente se, come opinion leader, possono condividere le loro conoscenze, perché un cliente consapevole può acquisire migliori abitudini alimentari e può ampliare la propria curiosità verso nuovi orizzonti.